L’Esprit Divin

L’Esprit Divin (Paul Emilien 2014) is beautiful but topples just on that side, nearly missing being ever so slightly offensive. At the start the almost chemical aroma, akin to a cleaning solution, with a pungent mix of incense, cloves, woody ginger, citrus, spicy patchouli and resinous rose is a little daring. Of course, it’s also very sharp and fresh with that unmistakably contemporary niche vibe so all boldness is vaguely anticipated and enjoyable. And the accompanying florals with pretty vanilla and dense amber make it, as I said, beautiful. 

Nose: Patrick Bodifée


The vintage version of Vetiver (Guerlain 1959) is my favorite. With its genuinely fruity lemon and spicy vetiver aromatically swirling around the wearer at the start before calming to a gentle, heavenly and crisp citrusy vetiver scent laced with what smells like the remains of pipe tobacco from decades long past. And of course, it’s clearly a Guerlain, which is always a great thing.  

Top note: lemon.  Middle notes: tobacco and  vetiver.  Base notes: nutmeg, tobacco and pepper. 

Nose: Jean-Paul Guerlain 

Gypsy Water

When you first spray Gypsy Water (Byredo 2008) you have an olfactory experience similar to the unequaled refreshment of taking a long and cool drink of perfect water.  And probably water with lemon.  The best lemon.  Of course.  

Piny juniper and subtle pepper emerge afterwards.  And then the warmth of the amber, vanilla and sandalwood meets the green chill of the citrus.  The contrast feels modern and chic.  Meanwhile a sugary incense adds allure and mystery.  

Recently I’ve been paring down my collection because I need to add fragrances I love without overdoing it.  This is not a scent I’ll be adding but it’s one I can’t help but appreciate.  

Top notes: bergamot, lemon, pepper and juniper.  Middle notes: incense, pine needles and orris root.  Base notes: amber, vanilla and sandalwood.


The last year has been about one topic over and over again.  More than any year before that I can recall.   

Status.  It’s been about status…    Almost everyone seems insecure and obsessed with it lately.   Maybe the world is so crazy right now that we’re all looking for something to take solace in.  

So, if you read this blog as a way to label me (be honest, we all do it subconsciously at least) here’s a tip for those that don’t know me very well in person: throw out almost everything I’ve written about my family in regard to class.  The truth of who I am and who I’ve been is exceedingly complex. 

I’ll attempt to keep it simple and yet it must also be opaque, it seems…  My parents were raised well.  I was raised well with the caveat that we didn’t have money in the same sort of manner that other families in our community did, while I was a child.  And of course if “raised well” sounds vague well, that’s because it’s meant to sound vague.  

If I look at our family in one way, we were old money living in relative material scarcity for our kind of folk.   If I look at us in another way we were just middle class…  Maybe even lower middle class.  But we were truly all of those and none of them at the same time.  

My father who hated “the system” and “the man” in the 60’s, contemplating running away to Canada at one point to avoid the draft, succeeded I guess.  He raised me outside of the norm…   Confusingly so. 

Of course this young man who grew up relatively well off, having college paid for, a new car and a nice bank account until my grandpa cut him off (too many college years spending money on clothes and parties instead of books),  thought he had had a very average childhood.   And even though he was somewhat well educated (two degrees from two decent and respectable universities) and-   Oh never mind…  

Basically, he just thought he was dirt.  He had a very low opinion of himself. And he was emphatic about it.  He was a failure in his mind.  And, therefore, so were we…  And his extended family couldn’t have been that great either, I think he reasoned…  

Anyway.  The topic makes me want to punch something. 

I’m so sick of pretentious idiots who think they’re fooling people with their pseudo sophistication and wealth.   And I’m of the firm opinion at this point that in order to protect people’s feelings and maintain genuine meaning, the word sophisticated should only be genuinely used sparingly to describe people (at least) and in a hushed voice.  If you’re sophisticated: great.  If you’re not: fine.  But sure as heck don’t go around labeling one person (or thing really) more sophisticated than another or etc. without real fear and trembling…  Values and the principle of things have to be preserved at the expense of people’s ego. 

Sophistication is either there or it’s not.  Wealth is either there or it’s not.  (You’re a blue blood or you’re not, to some degree) And I refuse to believe that we’re in such a “post truth” and dumbed down society that people can’t see what’s real.   Nobody is really fooling anybody.   

Now go worry I’m secretly talking about you!  Or don’t…   Because, what does it matter?  Seriously.  We are who we are…  And that’s always good.   But we have to honestly and bravely be that! (Of course this is nothing new but I had to say it)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to say, “you’re not what and who you’re pretending to be.”  Then in the same breath I worry about where that puts me…   We all do.  However, the situation I find oddest to deal with is if I am what they are pretending to be.  In that case, as angry as it makes me to see them making a mockery of themselves and those they seek to imitate, I have to bite my lip, take a breath and shut up.  

Now, just to clarify, I don’t mean to be advocating a limitation on free expression or adventure.  And I don’t mean you shouldn’t try to expand your horizons and grow one way not another.  It’s just that you can’t be Mickey Mouse if you’re Daffy Duck.   And vice versa.  …You can’t be a jelly donut if you’re made of roasted peanuts.  You dig?  

I’ve tried lots of methods to express my frustration, such as direct confrontation.   And other times it’s been subtle hints.  …Little comments to indicate that I see through someone’s crass attempts to be better than others (and of course, better than me too in the final game, regardless of how many times they pretend to bow to what they call my “great taste” for the time being).   But it’s useless.   Some folks want what they never had physically, socially, etc. (and then some) and I’m kidding myself to think I can do a damn thing to truly open their eyes…   They want to ascend to the throne!  

Of course, unfortunately, the emperor has no clothes and they’re in for a surprise if they meet him.  But let them figure that out for themselves I guess.  

In the meantime I’m just going to appreciate beauty.   Real beauty…  And therefore, appreciate sincerity.  Genuine compliments are nice.  Honest people are wonderful…   I’d rather have a polite cold shoulder than a fake and twisted grin. 

(p.s. If you think I’m a rich, horrible person, well, that’s your opinion.  Or, on the other end, if you think I’m a silly, little pathetic fool then please feel free to keep thinking that.  I’m exhausted trying to walk on egg shells…) 


Frangipani (Ormonde Jayne 2003) opens with a sugary, opulent note of lime. But it’s a lime of many layers. And it’s flanked by a flourish of sweet lily, orchid and lush plum. Rose and frangipani emerges carrying along amber with them.  Yet still, the lime remains with its crisp, structured and light beauty, even into the sweet, spicy, vanillic cedar laden drydown. Really though, this scent is unique in that a 3D effect is created because it seems that it changes, giving emphasis to different notes, with each movement you make. It projects in a very fascinating way. 

Top notes: lime blossom, lime and magnolia.  Middle notes: plum, water lily, tuberose, rose, frangipani and water lily. Base notes: amber, vanilla, cedar, and musk.  

Nose: Geza Schoen 

Sun Moon Stars 

Sultry and somber Sun Moon Stars (Karl Largerfeld 1984) begins with a boozy pineapple and freesia. Meanwhile, a pungent jasmine, supple carnation, and a lily-of-the-valley wearing stilettos meet lotus. And sure, fruity, peach kissed sandalwood and vanilla add warmth and sugar but again, this fragrance is as ultimately blue and otherworldly as the bottle. Perhaps it’s the way the vanilla and pineapple come crashing into each other accompanied by a symphony of perfect notes moment by moment from start to finish. Whatever it is it’s certainly one of the most evocative scents in my collection.
Nose: Sophia Grojsman 

Kisses Rain 

It starts with an alluring, sugary burst. Impeccable oud and gentle rose mixes with almond. Musk and patchouli are at the base. But it’s a bright gourmand with a dash of subtle coffee flanked by opulent, airy, and utterly sensual cedar and balsam. And while it certainly has the open, expansive beauty found in some of the best contemporary fragrances it’s not without a unique sincerity and depth that is rare in today’s scents. As the name would suggest it’s truly romantic. 

Top notes: bergamot, agarwood (oud), cardamom and rose.  Middle notes:agarwood (oud), almond, atlas cedar, coffee and heliotrope.  Base notes: amber, musk, patchouli, vanilla and tolu balsam.
Nose: Daniel Josier 

Aqua Di Selva 

Lemon. Fresh, uplifting pine embraces lemon opens this classic gem (Visconti di Modrone 1949).  Then lavender and bergamot arrive in a gentlemanly flourish. This extraordinarily pristine and airy scent is the sort of fragrance one wants to smell wafting from a man with perfectly starched and impeccably tailored shirts. It’s so crystal clear and pine tree cool that it reads as minty despite there being no mint notes listed… But the musk and peat base comes through at just the right moment to bring grounded depth. Slightly reminiscent of Blenheim Bouquet this is the sort of fragrance a well dressed man should own.

🎶And on a related note, this bottle was procured at an estate sale of an individual with great taste indeed – the retired director of the Minnesota Orchestra. I like to imagine detecting this scent during a discussion about the violin section playing Sibelius.
Top notes: lavender, bergamot, lemon, rosemary and basil.  Middle notes: thyme, pine tree, cloves, clary sage and geranium.  Base notes: peat, cedar, musk and vetiver.

Giorgio Beverly Hills For Men 

While Giorgio Beverly Hills is a blast of tuberose that can almost be offensive (or just is offensive depending on who you ask and their experience with the scent) Giorgio Beverly Hills For Men (Giorgio Beverly Hills 1984) is a bit more regal and refined. Marbled orange and aldehydes start and then are flanked by smoky, sandalwood emboldened honey mixed with carnation. Orris and patchouli are nearly sublime as they meet with musk, sweet benzoin and just a perfect dash of oakmoss. I expected to be moderately pleased with this vintage sample but instead I’m a little taken. 
Top notes: aldehydes, orange, fruity notes and bergamot.  Middle notes: carnation, sandalwood, patchouli, cinnamon, orris root, cedar and rose.  Base notes: honey, tonka bean, amber, musk, benzoin, oakmoss and vanilla.

Que Sera

This vintage chypre is very earthy, green and musky (Studio Girl Hollywood 50’s or 60’s?). To be honest, it’s one of those sort of vintage fragrances you don’t necessarily wear but it’s fun to have. There’s something a little funky about it and while I think it could be layered it’d be hard for even me (who loves vintage fragrance) to truly use it. Or maybe if just the right person found it they’d enjoy it? At any rate it’s still novel.